Public Sector Agreement Explainer: Leave Replacement

Staff going on leave_ (1)Under our public sector agreement a health service must replace staff for planned absences, that is leave for 2 or more weeks (whether that’s annual leave, parental leave, long service leave, professional development, study leave or Workcover-based absences); and for unplanned absences, that is when someone calls in sick or a position has become vacant as a result of a resignation or termination.

For planned absences:

When there are planned absences your employer must ensure there is a backfill employee appointed from the first day of the leave.

A backfill employee must be paid at the same classification grade and time fraction of the role being backfilled. If an employer is unable to backfill a someone on leave because a suitably experienced and qualified employee is unavailable the employer must not ask another employee/s to perform the work of the absent employee unless his/her work is reduced by a commensurate amount.(seem detailed explanation below).

For unplanned absences:

If there are unplanned absences (for two weeks or more), ie those occasions where someone is sick, is on Workcover or a position has become vacant as a result of a resignation or termination, your employer is required to backfill the position for the duration of the absence.

If you’re rostered on-call you can’t be recalled unless your employer has been advised of the absence after 4pm the day before the absence or if another replacement employee is unavailable.

What happens if any absence isn’t backfilled?

If there are absences and they haven’t been filled then your boss will immediately prioritise work to ensure:

  1. workloads for other staff members who may be asked to perform the duties of the absent employee are adjusted by reducing their usual duties; or
  2. the work of the absent employee is not required to be undertaken by any employee;
  3. other staff will not unreasonably be required to work overtime to complete their own work and the work of the absent staff member.
  4. if overtime is worked then overtime pay will apply

Your boss is also required to employ adequate relief staff to ensure that work is not falling to you and your colleagues.

Enforcing your right:

It is necessary for your employer to exhaust all avenues to backfill planned and unplanned absences before making other staff fill in for such absences.

If you are aware of a position which has not been backfilled then let the Union know using our handy “Leave Replacement / Backfilling” form.

Need more information? Contact the Union on 9623 9623 or at

Share This Post On